Six Reasons Jennifer Aniston Could Win the Oscar for ‘Cake’

Cake Toronto Film Festival

What a difference a week makes. Once considered a long shot for an Oscar nom, Jennifer Aniston has now received the holy trifecta — nominations for best actress from SAG, Golden Globe and the Critics’ Choice Awards. An Oscar nomination seems more and more likely.

It’s all the more impressive that Aniston has received such attention for a small independent film. In “Cake,” written by first-time screenwriter Patrick Tobin and directed by Daniel Barnz, she plays Claire Simmons, a woman who suffers from chronic pain and becomes obsessed with learning more about a member of her support group who committed suicide. Aniston has never been given such a meaty role on the bigscreen before, and she rewards the filmmakers’ gamble with a beautiful, heartfelt performance.

Aniston has made a lot of progress in a short time in the race and will likely continue. There are so many factors that go into Academy voting that have little do with the acting at hand. So here’s a list of reasons why Aniston just might end up taking home the gold on Oscar night.

1. The campaign
Nobody is working harder than Aniston to get word out about the small film. She’s been coast-to-coast for screenings, interviews and events, and she is always smart, passionate and charming. Her charm offensive is reminiscent of when Halle Berry was cast against type in 2001’s “Monster’s Ball.” In the beginning, Berry was considered a longshot, but she worked harder than any other nominee. In the end, she usurped the likes of Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman and frontrunner Sissy Spacek for “In the Bedroom” to win the Academy Award.

2. Voters love an underdog
Too often, people complain about the predictability in Oscar choices—how the awards feel over before they’re even announced. But unlike years where “The King’s Speech” or “Argo” emerged as early frontrunners and went on to win, this year has proved to be one of the most difficult to predict in a long time. And every once in a while, the Academy likes to throw in a curveball, like wins for Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny” or Marcia Gay Harden for “Pollock.” Right now, there is no bigger underdog in the category than Aniston, and there’s something exciting about the idea of her winning.

3. Voters really love a transformation
From Charlize Theron hiding her looks in “Monster” to Nicole Kidman slapping on a prosthetic nose in “The Hours,” Oscar always favors actors who are willing to strip away their good looks – especially beautiful women. Much has been made of the fact Aniston wore little to no makeup for “Cake,” other than prosthetic scars. She also dresses down in frumpy clothes and sports unwashed hair. She’s still Jennifer Aniston, so suffice it to say she still looks better than most people on an average day – but it’s the kind of vanity-free performance the Academy loves.

4. The competition
Since the start of awards season, the perceived frontrunner for best actress has been Julianne Moore as a professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.” While Moore’s work is stellar as always, most of the talk is about how the four-time nominee is overdue. But there is little doubt that Moore will be back in the race, and this isn’t perceived as her last opportunity to win. Other names like Reese Witherspoon, Marion Cotillard and Hilary Swank are in the mix, but are all recent winners. On the flip side, actresses like Rosamund Pike and Felicity Jones are considered fairly new, and the nomination will be their reward. In short, there doesn’t appear to be a passionate fanbase for any particular actress. Which makes Aniston bursting into the race last-minute, cast against type in a small movie, a compelling narrative to get behind.

5. Public sentiment
This is tricky, but again, let’s not pretend people’s emotions don’t get involved. Aniston has been the center of so much speculation and gossip for years as part of one of the world’s most famous triangles, and while I suspect everyone involved has long moved on, the same cannot be said for the general public. It’s easy to imagine people rallying behind Aniston – particularly in a year where Jolie’s “Unbroken” is supposed to be a big player. As one Academy member put it after “Unbroken” was snubbed at the Globes, “I can’t believe the HFPA missed out on an opportunity to get them all in the same room.”

6. The performance itself
Aniston is fantastic in “Cake,” which should be the most obvious and important reason she’s worthy. It’s a meaty role with so many facets, and she nails every scene. In lesser hands, Claire could have been exceedingly unsympathetic, shrill or pitiful. Instead, Aniston plays all shades of a complex woman and inhabits her grief so fully we understand and even forgive Claire. For every moment where her anger drives someone away, there’s a sweet, simple scene such as the one in which she gives her housekeeper (a wonderful Adrianna Barrazza) a gentle ego boost. Those who dismiss her as a TV star clearly don’t realize just how difficult her work on “Friends” could be – and how easy she made it look. Those who write her off as a star, not an actress, forget that some people can be both.


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  1. Elsa says:

    I think it is pathetic to campaign for a nomination. You either gave a great performance that is rewarded on its own or not. There are only five nominees. Maybe it was a turn off to voters that she pushed for a nomination. I would never campaign for an award. I would want to know that I gave the best performance according to the voters. I wouldn’t go home after winning, be proud that I had to “buy” the award. And the movie itself did not get good reviews from variety, Hollywood reporter or my local critic Roeper in Chicago! She was not SNUBBED!

  2. teddy says:

    I call BS on this. Who paid you off to write this? Aniston is a rom com TV performer , thats all.

  3. K says:

    Cake was great and Jennifer was AMAZING in it. I saw it this week at a screening and she did a wonderful q and a afterwards. Much deserved from the movies I have scene so far. Still have a few to watch but I am pulling for Jen.

  4. FM Talks says:

    She’s not going to win. It’s even questionable that she will get nominated. Meh film that no one has seen. She has a ways to go before being another Matthew McConaughey.

    • Geri says:

      I don’t think anyone is comparing her to an actor of Matthew McConaughey’s caliber. Even her supporters seem to want her to be nominated just because they like her personally. I may be wrong, but I don’t think any of her supporters have stated they think she is a great actor. Most just like her a lot…some took her marriage break up personally and feel she was wronged…and sadly if Sandra Bullock can win, why not Aniston?

      • FM Talks says:

        If you have time go look at some other entertainment sites. I’ve read several comments from people on other sites making the comparison with McConaughey. Yes, on other sites, she has a fan base that believe she’s great and has not been given the chance to show her acting chops. This very article on Variety gives pubic sentiment as a reason she could win.. and of course HAS to mention Jolie. Personally, I don’t think Aniston is a bad actress, I think she’s ok. She’s likeable so fans want her to succeed, which is understandable. But I find it incredible that people are that vested in a celebrity’s personal life that they would internalize the celeb’s life events. I do feel sorry for Aniston in that the media feels it MUST keep her entangled with Pitt and Jolie. Is it lazy journalism or is it deliberate? It’s 10 years later and they, including Variety, seem determined to keep the tired “wronged woman” narrative alive. Never mind that all 3 of them have moved on. You mentioned Bullock.. I don’t think she deserved a win for The Blind Side but I do think she’s a better actress than Aniston.

  5. stu freeman says:

    If Aniston’s performance is so brilliant why is it that no one is going to be able to see it until AFTER the Oscar nominations are announced? They’re opening the film in one theater in L.A. on the last day of December in order for the movie to qualify- it isn’t opening even in NYC ’til January. I suspect that the reviews are not expected to be all that kind and that the nomination is being carefully engineered by Aniston and her publicists. A deglamorized ex-sitcom star “risking it all” in a challenging (?) little indie- drama. That scenario might actually make for a better film than this one will likely turn out to be. The Oscar ought to go to Marion Cotilliard (Julianne Moore gives a better performance in Maps to the Stars than she does in Still Alice) but Cotilliard will probably be ignored in favor of a performance by Aniston that almost no one will actually have the opportunity to see before the nominations come out. And that’s pretty shameful.

  6. Bree says:

    Ever since I saw that she was going to be at the People Magazine Awards, I knew this was possible because I knew it was because they were giving her an award. The campaign continues. That’s what you’re supposed to do though so I guess it’s a “don’t hate the player. hate the game.” situation.

    Also, where on earth are Cotillard and Hilary Swank?

  7. Bree says:

    Really? It’s Julianne Moore’s time. I guess she needs to get out there more because it seems this will just be about popularity. People are definitely helping Aniston with articles like these though. I guess…I’m just disappointed.

    People have said that this year isn’t that great for actresses, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

  8. charcramer says:

    I don’t find being a good campaigner “impressive.” I want to see a great actress in a great movie. Not a politician. Variety you are becoming a joke.

  9. guest says:

    ROOTING FOR YOU JEN and whether you win or not just the nomination is a great deal

  10. guest says:

    If the ongoing fascination with her isn’t about her talent then how did she get a SAG nomination so it makes your claims stupid. she is a SAG, GG and CRITIC CHOICE NOMINEE and she earned them all by her talent. her performance was for sure worthy than those who didn’t get the nominations so stop making a fool of yourself @Lee

  11. What transformation? no makeup? lol It’s a JOKE

    • Geri says:

      The “on-going fascination” with Aniston has NOTHING to do with her talent. She’s very well liked in Hollywood, despite being an actress of average talent. SAG often nominates people they just like. And the Golden Globe always tries to get some popular celebrities in the audience so that the masses will watch the show. Heck, she may even win the Golden Globe. But it would be a real slap in the face to Julianne Moore if she does.

  12. Lee says:

    This should be Julianne Moore’s Oscar. It is LOOONG overdue. The woman delivers great performances in every movie she’s in not just on occasion when she decides to “transform” like Aniston. Let’s be real, the ongoing fascination with Aniston has nothing to do with her acting talent.

  13. guest says:

    There is no doubt she is going to get a nomination for this powerful, believable and brilliant performance in CAKE. she is so far top 2-5 in most predictions. the 5th spot is hers for sure. Am so rooting for her

  14. guest says:

    At this point Jen is in the race and could fight for the win btw Moore and . gold derby has similar article of her possibly upsetting Moore chances of winning

  15. collins says:

    Ms. Aniston is an exciting addition to the top 5 nominees and she indeed deserves it. she has been typecast for so long and got this opportunity to prove herself and am very proud of her. btw On
    Gold Derby 6 experts have Jen in 2nd place , 9 experts in 5th place and 1 expert in 4th place in the Oscars race

    OSCARS 2014 NOMINATIONS: Experts’ Predictions

    More expects haven’t updated their predictions yet

  16. Bill B. says:

    God forbid, but it does have this “Sandra Bullock” popularity award feel to it. However, she was in a commercial hit and this is far from that. She shouldn’t even be nominated. The nominees should be Moore, Pike, Jones, Witherspoon. that 5th spot should go to either Cotillard or Swank; not Aniston.

    • eric says:

      I love all the comments from people who have not even seen the movie yet. Grow up already, seriously.

      • bec215 says:

        Do you really believe that Aniston’s talent is on par with Swank, or Cotillard, or Moore? Every review of Aniston’s work in this movie says it’s the ‘best of her career’. That’s just saying it’s good work ‘for someone of her caliber’. Not the same thing as saying a performance is Oscar-worthy.

        It’s totally fair to ask the question if she’s so incredible in this movie, why didn’t it get a distributor when it debuted and why are they holding mass release till next year?

        I agree with the commenter who said this is looking like the Sandra Bullock or GooP noms that had more to do with like ability than with their performances. I’ve seen 2 preview clips – the scene in the pharmacy is laughably bad, like “Rachel with PMS” was all I could see. The other one I don’t even remember, except I thought “ok, so it’s not going to totally suck”. Again – good for Aniston, but not “Oscar-worthy”.

  17. Fed-up says:

    Hollywood is in love with awarding comedians for the moment….Stiller from Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Carrell from Foxcatcher and so on and on…bottom-line…everyone wants to be relevant in Hollywood especially the people getting too old to get the juicy younger actor roles. So they switch over…De Niro did it from drama to comedy and so why not the other way around. However, the CAKE story is really lame. Acting aside it definitely should come down to the content of a story. For those of us who actually suffer chronic pain she isn’t any poster girl for the cause so get a clue people. It is all vanity and ego. The whole lot of these celebs want to not only make big bucks but get big accolades too. What they really deserve most times is an award for the most narcissistic people on the planet…even Jennifer Aniston. Stop worshiping these monkey-butts!

  18. E says:

    There’s a lot of people still caught up in that triangle you brought up. Those who are not on her side are so passionate about trying to tear her down. All this talk about her possibly winning has them foaming at the mouth. Its hilarious. They want her to lose. Each time she gets another nomination they get angrier and meaner. I hope she wins. Just so I can sit back and laugh at all of those crazies who care way too much about something that has nothing to do with them. Honestly, who really cares who wins? Unless you’re one of the actresses nominated, what difference does it make to all of us who wins or loses?

  19. Mary Alice says:

    I agree! Jennifer has been over looked for a long time! Oscar!!!!

    • Cheryl says:

      Jolie and Pitt freed themselves of her long ago. In fact the triangle you mentioned will probably only hurt her chances. She rode their coat tail for an eternity and Hollywood knows it.

  20. niaj says:

    it’s a joke if she’s even way she can beat the likes of marion,jessica,julienne,reese.
    oh well lately oscar’s has been a popularity contest,whoever runs the best wins.

  21. Jay says:

    Love this article and really hope she wins!

  22. LMAO says:

    How much did she pay you?

  23. Quan Pham says:

    How about ” 20 reasons Jennifer Aniston could be left out of Oscar”.

  24. Micha says:

    The few reviews that there are on Cake state “Jen’s drab acting”, “movie turns into a soap opera”, “doesn’t have all that much new to say”, “passable effort”, “let down by predicatibility”, “character study of a character not worth studying”, “Cake’s conceits quickly crumble, leaving just a half-baked pity”, “perilously close to a trite, TV-movie tearjerker rather than something as harrowing and real as a Cassavetes drama”. Hardly glowing reviews. Only two say anything somewhat positive about Jen’s acting, being ” [Aniston’s] performance is equally intelligent” and “a serious treat to see the actress stretch herself”. Hardly glowing either. When you have to have your PR set up an award show so you can win an award and fake surprise over it and hire a top “award strategist” one should really reconsider what their purpose in life is-and what the purpose of life is.

    • David says:

      I thought the same at first, but most critics are giving her role praise. Cake won’t be nominated for anything else, because the story and the movie itself are flawed. But so far, everyone has been absolutely floored by what Jennifer has done with the role. Conversely (to play devil’s advocate, and because most people who HATE Jennifer Aniston are fans of Jolie…as weird as that is in and of itself), “Unbroken”, while attached to a colorful celebrity personality who is shilling as hard for it as Aniston has for her role, is not a great film, so while an actor’s performance can be recognized in a not-so-perfect film (and none of the actors are getting any sort of acclaim in “unbroken”), a film on the whole SHOULD NOT be given a nom for best direction, best picture, etc if most of said film was flawed. It just makes sense. After reading glowing reviews for Jennifer, I can’t help but want to see Cake. After reading lackluster reviews for Unbroken, and the fact that nothing but the cinematography is really being mentioned about it at all, it doesn’t sound like something I’ll waste my money on.

  25. Homer says:

    Wow. She did pay a specialist to bag her the noms so… who knows what this is about. As long as the embarrassment that is Reese Witherspoon doesn’t win again, most of the other likely nominees would be deserving winners, in my opinion.

  26. Ann says:

    I saw a screening of the film a few weeks ago. I thought her performance was fantastic and yes, very much award worthy. It was far more than just a lack of makeup on display. I’m wondering if other than the critics who don’t like the film, any of the posters here have actually viewed CAKE without an already predetermined bias against Aniston?

  27. Matt says:

    Long overdue. She should have won an Oscar for The Good Girl.

  28. Bill says:

    She needs to be NOMINATED first; how about you wait with the handicapping until THAT happens?

  29. says:

    hahahahahaha You have got to be kidding or on the Aniston payroll.

  30. Stergios says:

    Sorry, but this is ridiculous. The sixth reason especially, about the “performance itself” is beyond ridiculous. No offense to Aniston, but I just can’t see how Jennifer Aniston will be preferred from the Oscars over Marion Cotillard, who is her biggest competition for the fifth slot (Marion Cotillard vs. Jennifer Aniston – LOL!!!) this year for a nomination as Best Actress In A Leading Role (!), let alone win the award towards Julianne Moore (!!!). I mean, seriously, Aniston is likable and solid in Cake, but Marion Cotillard is mesmerizing to watch in what is arguably her best performance since La Vie En Rose and the best female performance of the year as well. She deserves to take that spot over Aniston and really there’s no other female performance who deserves that fifth spot more. Cotillard actually deserves the first spot, so if she’s about to be snubbed from The Oscars again, it will be scandalous. The fact that she’s been snubbed from both Golden Globes and SAG Awards is truly disgusting. But seriously, even if they threw Marion out so shamefully once again (after her criminal snubs for her unforgettable and 100% worthy of an Oscar win performances in films like Nine, Inception and Rust and bone), the possibility of Aniston being preferred instead of the phenomenal Hilary Swank for The Homesman or the incredible Amy Adams from Big Eyes or Scarlett Johansson (Under the skin), Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars) or Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) is almost outrageous. So go ahead, Academy voters, snub Marion again, put Jennifer Aniston in and fool yourselves by claiming you reward the five Best Performances given by An Actress In A Leading Role this year! Alright, voters, give that fifth slot to Aniston after that rename The Oscars to People’s Choice Awards or even better PR Awards so that things are a bit more clear and honest. And after all the brain-washing thing from sites and newspapers about how “fantastic” she is in Cake (having seen the film I tell you she’s really solid but nowhere near to fantastic), fool yourselves by claiming you reward the five Best Performances given by An Actress In A Leading Role this year! Ugh!

  31. Elijah says:

    Stop comparing Aniston with Theron. Please.

    • Jen's Okay But... says:

      Totally! Theron’s blistering work in MONSTER must be considered the finest female perf of the 21st century. No one – ‘cept maybe Cate Blanchett in last year’s BLUE JASMINE – even comes close.

      • Yodi says:

        or Theron’s performance on Aeon Flux, you know, the Sci-Fi one not worth an Oscar nomination which proves not all actresses that win Oscars always choose an Oscar winning role or performance… that is, unless you are Meryl Streep whom even at being a world class actress was passed up 15 times for an Oscar win to less deserving actresses, so you see, anything is possible in tinseltown!

  32. atruistic says:

    Lol, it’s hilarious but kind of commendable how Aniston is able to get people like Jenelle Riley and Pete Hammond to write pieces about how great she is. I wonder how much she bought her People’s Choice Award for that she won?

    Sorry Jen, but you’re not going to be able to get an Oscar nomination when people like Julianne Moore, Reese, Amy Adams, Marion Cotillard and Rosamund Pike are way more loved and actually star in movies that are well-received.

  33. guest says:

    Her competition is way stronger than you are implying. Moore’s talk is due to her amazing performance that has earned many, many more raves than Aniston’s. Pike and Jones also have raves. Marion has raves etc. Aniston’s reviews were good for her, for anyone else they would be terrible.

    It is not hard to have a career best performance when you have been in terrible films and acting like rachel green for the last decade. Suddenly she wears no makeup & people act like she is Streep!!!!! give me a break.

    SPC picked it up after TIFF, while Aniston had to create her own distribution company just to get her film released.

  34. shemitch says:

    Submitted for Your Consideration by the Committee of Vote Jennifer “Someone please take me seriously” Aniston.

  35. guest says:

    well said and I hope for her to get the nomination for this role, she so deserves it.

  36. Geri says:

    Jennifer Anniston with dirty hair does not an Oscar make. Could someone PLEASE do something different with her hair? Everyone else, save Julianne Moore, gets cut and colored, but not Anniston.

  37. Lea says:

    Is this a joke??? Or did her publicist send you a huge bonus?

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